Before becoming a veterinarian, my life was not so focused on poop. Now that I’m in practice I’m constantly looking at the color and consistency of dog poop as an indicator of some serious diseases. Dog poop can come in nearly all shades of the rainbow, with green being a common (yet alarming!) color.
What Causes Green Dog Poop
With green dog poop, the color might not be the only thing that’s off. The consistency may vary from runny, to greasy, to mucousy and it may or may not have a stronger odor. You may also see brown with green chunks or streaks, or green with bloody streaks. Green dog poop may happen once or it may be a consistent and chronic addition to your dog’s favorite pooping spot.
In addition to noticing your dog’s green poop, also pay attention to their attitude. Note any changes in appetite, energy level, or any other signs, such as vomiting, a fever, or weight loss. Now for those causes of green dog poop:
- Something they ate
- Changes in diet
- Too much fat
- Rat poison ingestion
- Intestinal issues
When is Green Dog Poop NOT a Concern?
Green dog poop of normal consistency with uniform color is usually not a cause of concern, especially if it happens infrequently and your dog isn’t showing any other signs.
Possible causes of this type of green dog poop are:
- Something your dog ate: Some dogs are indiscriminate eaters, meaning they hoover up anything that even slightly resembles food. Puppies are especially notorious for this. Eating things other than their regular diet can cause changes in the color of their poop.
Green dog poop is a common color because some dogs overdo eating grass. The grass is sometimes used by dogs as a natural laxative or upset stomach reliever, but some dogs make eating grass a habit that can turn their poop into a consistent green.
If your dog ate something green, such as grass, and their poop is usually normal consistency, it may be evenly green colored or have green chunks in it, especially if he happened on some crayons or other green undigestible things.
- Changes in diet: Another cause of green dog poop is a sudden diet change. A dog’s digestive system adapts over time to their specific dog food. Sudden switches can throw off their digestive balance and bring on poop that is green and runny. Expect to take 7-10 days to gradually switch your dog from old to a new food by mixing increasing amounts of the new food with the old.
When is Green Dog Poop a Concern?
Green dog poop that has 1) a greasy or slimy consistency, 2) bloody streaks, or 3) excessive mucus may be cause for concern.
Dogs with this type of green poop may also have a decreased appetite, weight loss, a fever, or abdominal pain. See your veterinarian if your dog is showing any other signs along with green poop or has this type of green poop more than once. Possible causes include:
- Parasites: Internal worms can plague all dogs, even those that live indoors. A parasitic infection can lead to green dog poop with a slimy consistency. These dogs may experience constipation and straining, and you may even see worms in the feces. Your veterinarian will be able to diagnose and treat internal parasites with a fecal sample and parasiticides.
- Giardia: Here is a parasite that gets its own category because it causes green dog poop that is different than other intestinal parasites. A Giardia infection can cause dog poop that is green as well as soft or runny. Some dogs will develop severe diarrhea that can lead to weight loss and dehydration. Giardia infections are more common in dogs that are around a lot of other animals or from drinking from a contaminated water source, such as a river or lake. If you suspect Giardia is the cause of your dog’s green poop, see a vet as soon as possible. Special antibiotics are needed to treat Giardia.
- Too much fat: Diets that are too high in fat may produce a greenish-brown, greasy dog poop. Excess fat is often sent out of the body undigested, which causes a greasy appearance. Talk with your veterinarian about switching to a healthier diet if you notice this type of green dog poop.
- Rat poison: Rat poisons kill rodents by decreasing the clotting capability of their blood so that they bleed out easily with any minor injury or by causing neurological damage and brain swelling. They can do the same to your dog if they ingest enough of it. Dogs may appear normal for several days after eating rat poison, or you may notice a greenish tint to their poop. Seek immediate veterinary help if you suspect your dog ate rat poison.
- Other intestinal issues: Infections, inflammatory bowel disease, food allergies, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, liver disease, and many other disorders can cause green dog poop. The consistency may be normal, runny, or mucousy, depending on the cause. Your dog may also show other signs, such as vomiting, fever, weight loss, and not wanting to eat. If your dog has any other signs or has had abnormal green poop for more than a couple of days, see your veterinarian.
Important note: Keep in mind that pictures only don’t equal a diagnosis. Consult your veterinarian any time there are any changes in your dog’s poop or behavior, or if you’re at all concerned.
What Should You Do If Your Dog’s Poop is Green
Green dog poop isn’t always a cause for concern, especially if you know the reason behind it. If you notice your dog eating a lot of grass or that they ate the frosting off of your Saint Patrick’s Day cupcakes, normal green poop is to be expected. This typically requires no treatment and will go away on its own.
However, if your dog makes a habit out of grazing, try switching them to a high-fiber diet that will get them the digestive regulation that they are probably looking for.
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- If you recently changed your dog’s diet and now their poop is green, go back to the old food and try a more gradual transition. This will likely clear up the issue, especially if they are not showing any other signs.
- You may want to have your dog checked for internal parasites and treated as necessary as well.
Now, if your dog has green poop more than a couple of times or if they’re showing any other signs, it’s time to do something about it.
1. For mild digestive upset that may have the occasional vomiting episode, try withholding food for 4-6 hours and only offer small amounts of water. A bland diet of boiled chicken and rice for a couple of days may help as well. If this doesn’t end the green poop or other signs within 48 hours, or if signs get worse, see your veterinarian. Moderate to severe infections, such as parvo, may require fluids, anti-nausea medications, antibiotics, and a diet change. The cost can be anywhere from $200-$2,000, depending on the severity.
2. For green diarrhea that happens more than once or if there’s frequent vomiting, fever, or abdominal pain, don’t try anything at home, just see your vet. This may be a sign of Giardia, a serious infection, or another digestive issue. Diagnostics and treatment will depend on the cause and may include blood work, fecal testing, imaging, fluids, anti-nausea medications, antibiotics, and hospitalization. Expect to pay anywhere from $200-$2,000 or more.
3. If you suspect that your dog ingested rat poison, see your vet immediately. The treatment for rat poison ingestion may cost around $200 if caught early. It’s going to be upwards of $2,000 or more if your dog is showing signs and needs blood transfusions and hospitalization. The sooner this issue is treated, the better the outcome.
When to See a Vet for Green Dog Poop
Most of the time, the occasional green dog poop is no reason to worry, especially if your dog is a known grass eater. If grass consumption is starting to get out of hand, however, switching to a high-fiber diet may stop the green poops.
For dogs that have green poop that has abnormal inconsistency, frequency, or odor, you may choose to monitor for a couple of days as long as they are not showing any other signs. If that green poop doesn’t clear up after 48 hours, see your vet.
Dogs that have abnormal green poop and are showing signs such as vomiting, not wanting to eat, abdominal pain, or weight loss should see a vet.
When making a veterinary visit, it’s helpful to bring a fecal sample, if you have one, for the vet to see and possibly test. You will also want to note your dog’s appetite and water consumption and any other signs that they may be showing.
What Does Normal Dog Poop Look Like?
Just as a refresher, in case you were wondering, normal dog poop should be light to dark brown.
It should have a Tootsie Roll form and be able to stand up on its own. A dog should have no trouble passing it. The color may vary depending on their diet, and the amount and frequency may vary depending on how often you feed them.
- Monitoring your dog’s poop every day is one of the best ways to catch any abnormalities early on.
- One abnormal bowel movement without any other signs is usually nothing to worry about. However, repeat abnormalities or other signs warrant looking into.
- Your vet may ask for an annual fecal sample to screen for internal parasites and other issues.
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